Hamas Wants to Stop Governing Gaza While Continuing to Rule It

What do Hamas’s leaders hope to achieve in the current war? First of all, writes Matthew Levitt, survival. Second, they want the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) to return to power in the Gaza Strip, which happens to accord with one of the commonly floated plans for the day after the current war. Hamas, to this end, has engaged in reconciliation talks with its arch-rival, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which currently controls the PA. Levitt explains:

In seeking to force a new governance structure on Gaza and to refashion the PLO in its own image, Hamas hopes to impose a Hizballah model on the territory. Like Hizballah, the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Shiite militant movement in Lebanon, Hamas wants a future in which it is both a part of, and apart from, whatever Palestinian governance structure next emerges in Gaza. That way, as with Hizballah in Lebanon, it hopes to wield political and military dominance in Gaza and ultimately the West Bank without bearing any of the accountability that comes from ruling alone.

Why risk giving up control in Gaza, which it ruled since 2007? Because

the movement’s support in Gaza appeared to be eroding. Israel’s pre-October 7 strategy toward Hamas was based on buying calm by allowing Qatari funds to flow into Gaza in the hopes that this would decrease support for Hamas militancy among the Gazan population. For all the criticism Israel has faced for this approach in the months since Hamas’s attack, there is some indication that it was working.

Hamas also feared Israeli normalization with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were demanding that Israel take tangible and irreversible steps toward a two-state solution and that Washington enter into a formal security treaty with Riyadh; in exchange, the Saudis would formally recognize Israel. Most Palestinians likely saw progress on Palestinian statehood as a good thing, but not Hamas, which has always been dead set against a two-state solution and committed to Israel’s destruction.

So as Hamas sees it, . . . it must adopt a Hizballah model in its relation to the postwar governance structure that emerges—joining with the PLO and changing the Palestinian movement from within while maintaining Hamas as an independent fighting force. For Hamas, this would be a return to first principles: it could pursue its fundamental commitment to destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamist Palestinian state in all of what it considers historic Palestine.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Hizballah, Palestinian Authority

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation